Although The Presentation of the Virgin , which is celebrated on November 21st, was not a common narrative scene in medieval art, monumental programs were dedicated to other major moments in the Virgin’s life.

by Rachel Hiser Remmes

Although The Presentation of the Virgin, which is celebrated on November 21st, was not a common narrative scene in medieval art, monumental programs were dedicated to other major moments in the Virgin’s life. In the late thirteenth century Jacopo Torriti was commissioned to make a new apse mosaic for the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. This fifth-century basilica had begun construction in 432 and was dedicated to the Virgin after the Council of Ephesus in 431, which declared that the Virgin Mary was the Theotokos (God Bearer) and not only the Christotokos (Christ Bearer). Torriti’s thirteenth-century apse mosaic program celebrates The Coronation of the Virgin Mary in heaven, depicted in the conch. Below this poignant scene are five episodes from the Life of the Virgin: The Annunciation, The Nativity, The Adoration of the Kings, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and The Dormition.


Santa Maria Maggiore, Apse Mosaic, The Coronation of the Virgin, Jacopo Torriti, 1296.

Detail of the Virgin, Santa Maria Maggiore, Apse Mosaic, The Coronation of the Virgin, Jacopo Torriti, 1296.

The Annunciation, Santa Maria Maggiore, Apse Mosaic, The Coronation of the Virgin, Jacopo Torriti, 1296.

The Nativity, Santa Maria Maggiore, Apse Mosaic, The Coronation of the Virgin, Jacopo Torriti, 1296.

The Adoration of the Kings, Santa Maria Maggiore, Apse Mosaic, The Coronation of the Virgin, Jacopo Torriti, 1296.

The Presentation of Christ, Santa Maria Maggiore, Apse Mosaic, The Coronation of the Virgin, Jacopo Torriti, 1296.

The Dormition, Santa Maria Maggiore, Apse Mosaic, The Coronation of the Virgin, Jacopo Torriti, 1296.

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